Of all the Video Poker games available in the casino, Jacks or Better often has the best odds; some versions of the game have a 99.5% payout percentage. This translates to hours of Video Poker entertainment at low cost, if you play it right.
Which means, of course, that there are ways of playing it wrong. Here are five tips to keep you on the straight and narrow:
Remember Rule One and Play Max Coins
Rule One: the house always wins. If you don’t understand that, get out the casino (and be very careful when choosing a bank manager, too…) You’re not playing slots trying to become a millionaire: you’re enjoying Video Poker entertainment and paying the house edge as the fee for that entertainment. If you’re playing $750 per hour in total action and paying only $3.75 for it, it’s not that expensive.
Think about it that way, and every windfall that exceeds the amount you’ve actually wagered is a nice bonus. But to get those windfalls, especially the significantly increased Royal Flush bonus that sets Jacks or Better apart from other Video Poker titles, you have to be betting maximum coins on every hand. So even if you have to find a lower-denomination machine, always make sure you can afford the max bet.
Find the Best Pay Table
Different coin denominations may also mean different paytable rules, unfortunately. Optimally, you want a Jacks or Better machine with a coin denomination you can afford the max bet on, but which also has the 9-6 paytable layout; in other words a full house pays 9 coins and a flush pays 6. These machines also usually have the biggest Royal Flush jackpots.
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Learn to Play Slowly
Again, if you think of Jacks or Better as “paying the house 50c per $100 of action for the entertainment of Video Poker”, rather than “Hooray! It’s cheap! How quickly can I run through this $1,000 bankroll trying to hit a Royal Flush?”, you’ll see the wisdom of playing slowly.
If you’re laying on $100 of action over 20 minutes, you’re paying the house $1.50 per hour. $100 every 10 minutes is $3.00 per hour – it can mount up quickly. Limit your alcohol intake, too – it can make you play even faster, and lead to mistakes when you’re calculating the best odds on what to hold.
Learn a Ranking System
There are several good betting systems online, all very similar; that will help you play any kind of Jacks or Better hand. If you have four cards to a Royal Flush, for example, always draw to it. Otherwise, any two-pair or better combination is the hand you should play. Failing that, any four to a straight flush is what you keep, followed by a high pair, etc. Pick a ranking system that you can follow the logic of, then memorise it.
Get the Loyalty Points
If you play Jacks or Better regularly, whether at land-based or online casinos, it makes sense to join the players’ loyalty club. The time you spend playing then translates into bigger and more frequent casino bonuses, generally, so they give you more time playing the game without increasing your costs. What could be nicer than that?